Monday, June 5, 2023

Adding To The Range

It has been a while since posting here.  Life and other hobbies have been taking precedence, but I’ve been working on some additional models and thought I’d share some preliminary looks. I was approached by someone who wanted me to adapt my colonial models to Napoleonic.  I already had tricorne wearing forces from the Great Northern War that might work all the way up to the Revolutionary War. Side note, I have been working on grenadier miters for them but haven’t found anything that I really like yet.  The Napoleonic project should fit between the two other ranges nicely.  Because they are designed to form a solid block, I think their best use case would be to represent large formations of troops in games where other games would have several thousand men represented by a single figure.  Not being required to paint over 50% of each figure would allow a good painter to rapidly get a game-ready force together.

Colonial, Napoleonic, and 18th Century Line Infantry

Making the change from Colonial to Napoleonic has been simple enough so far.  The body, head, legs, arms (to include cuffs), and all of the weapons are completely reused from other projects.  I simply created a shako out of a cylinder and a severely slanted cylinder for the brim, merging the spaces between to complete the shako.  Embossed insignia provides some national distinction.  The “client”/requestor intends to use them in an imagi-nation setting so getting the details correct on a Belgic Shako vs. the French pattern are not important now.  That level of differentiation might be important in the future, but not today.  The coat’s turnbacks and iconic crossed belting will have to be painted if required.  I have also flared the cannon’s profile to be more reminiscent of the time period.  This remade cannon profile will be re-used for the 18th century forces as well.  I would like for the range to eventually include differentiated shakos, bearskins, cavalry helmets, and packs for the infantry.  More exoctic Hussar, Landwehr, Hannovarian uniforms might be possible if significant interest materializes. For now, the "client" only wants troops wearing Shakos.  

Saber Cavalry, Field Artillery, Light Infantry, Line Infantry, Lance Cavalry

For a more detailed explanation of my thought process behind how I design/model my simplified and exaggerated models, pick up a copy of the Second Portable Wargame Compendium.  Bob Cordery was generous enough to publish an article of mine in the 3D printing portion.  I hope it will be my most widely-read work to date. 


Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Painting Progress

I've spent the past few posts explaining how the ruleset I've been developing working with digital models.  I enjoy explaining with the digital models because they are very clear, but the main reason the previous posts didn't have physical miniatures is because they weren't painted.  I've written a longer article for an upcoming project explaining how I designed my 3D models, and how/why they might be a good fit for you.  This effort wouldn't be complete without images of the end result.  With the deadline for the article looming, my miniatures are finally getting the paint and attention they need.  

Shock Cavalry

12mm dice for reference

Three units of regular infantry

I still have to paint the bases, the hands and clean up some details, but the majority of the colors are in place.  The miniatures are painted in a color-block/toy soldier look.  They will get a coating of varnish to protect the paint and making them shiny toy soldiers. The base painting is still somewhat undecided.  The top surface will be a monochromatic green representing grass but the sides are undecided.   have considered painting the sides of the bases in the same color as the unit's distinguishing cuff color.  This will accentuate the differences between units, at the expense of immersion.  Being a game first and works of art second, I'm leaning toward matching the side of the base to the cuff color.  

Each force has 4 units of infantry 1 artillery piece and a shock cavalry unit

A better painter with better paints could get better results but, I think the miniatures are serviceable at arms distance for now.  They're definitely something that button counters should avoid, but they're durable,distinguishable, compact, customizable, and cheap.  I definitely have more money invested in cheap acrylic craft paint and brushes than the miniatures themselves.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Disorder, Casualties, and Rallying in "The Far Side of the World"

 In reading/playing wargame rules, one of the key abstractions is how to handle unit cohesion and casualties.  For me striking a balance between providing some degradation as casualties increase and keeping the amount of bookkeeping down is key.  A unit that has been fighting for its life in a long melee should be disadvantaged against a fresh unit from the reserves, but a pile of wound markers following around the unit or an accountant's ledger for a roster aren't appealing solutions to me.  I wanted to implement something that could provide players with a sense of their forces withering away but isn't too fiddley.

The other end of the spectrum for handling morale/unit cohesion/casualties by implementing an all or nothing mindset.  The unit is either on the field fighting or it has quit. This is an abstraction that allows games to be very compact.  No additional markers are needed.  Its downside is that the game can't show the very real effects of fatigue, disorder, and casualties.  It also provides the players no sense of how much longer they can expect their forces to stick around.  

I wanted a system in "The Far Side of the World" that used the best of granular system of hit/strength points and the simplicity of the all-or-nothing alternative.  What I developed was a system by which units can have two statuses applied to them to represent the chaos (disorder) and casualties (bloodied).  Disorder reduces a units resolve by 1.  It is applied to every time the unit attempts an action that would compare its resolve to a baseline (activation & rally) or compares its resolve to a hostile unit (attacked from range).  Luckily, the player's leader can rally away disorder.  The elite/inferior unit traits impact resolve.  Elite troops are expected to have a tougher mindset and better training to withstand the chaos around them.  The bloodied status, however, is permanent.  It is applied after the unit has been in significant combat and experienced casualties.  With fewer men still capable of carrying on, it makes sense that their combat ability is reduced.

If three different marker colors are available disordered, bloodied, or the combination of both can easily be represented by a unique marker.  Ordered and unbloodied units would have no marker following them.  Of course if players prefer an even-less cluttered board, they could still very easily create a roster for their units and mark bloodied/disordered boxes with markers or pen as appropriate.  I think this is a suitable solution for what can be a complicated problem.

How to Perform a Rally:

For the sake of this explanation let's assume that blue's regular infantry in the open (in front of the brown-horsed cavalry) is disordered.  It has taken fire from red's artillery in prior turns.  Blue has the initiative and successfully activates his leader's unit, the black-horsed cavalry.  He checks that the disordered infantry is in command radius.  It is (command radius default is 2. Distance between the two units in question is 2).  Because no enemy units are adjacent to the disordered unit, and the leader is not adjacent to the disordered unit, no modifiers can be applied. The leader's unit rolls 2D6 (leadership dice only apply to combat) and subtract the baseline modifier 3 from the regular infantry's resolve 2 (reduced due to disorder).  The result is 8.  The disorder state is removed.  The leader's activation ends and blue selects his next unit for activation.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Melee Combat in The Far Side of the World (Theory)

In "The Far Side of the World", every dice roll is determined by rolling 2D6.  From there baseline and situational modifiers may apply.  Baseline modifiers advantage handicap the base unit based on its opponent.  For example, a unit of cavalry charging an artillery crew should have a significant advantage.  In melee combat this is accomplished by giving the active unit an advantage (or disadvantage) of the difference in melee combat rating between the units involved.  For actions like activations and rallies where there is no enemy to compare to, a value of 3 is used.  Situational modifiers exist to advantage/disadvantage the active unit based on the terrain, disorder/casualties, nearby commanders, and other situations. Results always fall into one of three categories.  Modified of 0-6 indicate that something bad has happened.  Modified results 7-9 are successes, and results of 10 or more indicate a resounding success.  In some situations the 0-6 result category is split to indicate something very bad happening. Melee is one of the few action ins "The Far Side of the World" which has a 4th result category for something very bad.  For melee actions where the modified roll is less than 5, the attacker becomes disordered.  If they were already disordered the attacker becomes bloodied.  Self damaging results are designed to be uncommon but they do happen. 

After reading many rulesets, my favorite mechanisms involve; risk to both attacker and defender, uncertain length, and pinning both units in place until the melee is resolved.  Having risk to both units  encourages players to mimic the historical tendency for equally skilled regular infantry to fire volleys until the enemy is wavering and charge only as a last resort.  Bayonet charges did occur but were uncommon. Melee focused units do exist in "The Far Side of the World" and have a higher base melee rating to give them an advantage when they close with the enemy.  

Melees lasting uncertain duration is partially driven by historic flavor and partially driven by game design preferences. From the historical perspective, melee was often quick and decisive, but could also last for a considerable amount of time with both sides temporarily holding momentum.  By continuing melee until it is resolved in casualty or disengaging, players will have to adapt their plans to account for the units in the melee being unavailable for other actions. In some cases sacrificing a player's unit to tie up a strong enemy unit for a few turns may be strategically valuable.

Units did not have freedom of movement while engaged in melee.  Historically,  most casualties were taken when a unit's cohesion failed and the unit fled.  Successfully disengaging from melee did happen, but it often took a mismatch in professionalism, or a talented officer to disengage and preserve order.  In "The Far Side of the World", units with high morale or units boosted by a nearby commander are more likely to successfully activate with the opportunity to perform a difficult action. 

Blue's cavalry prepares to charge the flank

In the image above, Blue is the active player and has rolled a difficult activation for the cavalry.  They will charge the black-cuffed infantry's flank.  They receive no baseline modifier (both have melee combat rating of 3).  They receive situational modifier for a flank attack (+1) and a charge bonus (+2).  The modified result causes Red's infantry to become disordered.  Blue fails its next activation attempt.  At turnover, the infantry turns to face the cavalry.  Because the charge occurred in this activation, no further melee is required at turnover. In continuations of this engagement, the cavalry will not receive its charge bonus.

Friday, February 10, 2023

One Turn of "The Far Side of the World"

In this post and the next, I'll try to walk through a single turn of "The Far Side of the World".  I don't have painted models and terrain yet so this will be a virtual walkthrough.


You take the role of Sir Raymond Byrne, an inexperienced Colonel serving your first command tour.  Your Red army is marching through the countryside on when you contact a vanguard of the enemy army preparing to fortify a farmhouse.  You immediately proceed to attack, attempting to prevent the enemy from becoming entrenched.  A few turns into the battle, lines have formed and troops are engaged.

The mostly-barren battlefield

Your Forces:

You command 3 companies of regular infantry, a light infantry company, and a detachment of field artillery. On your left flank, the light infantry company take up a position in the woods.  Although they can still be seen by the enemy, the trees provide cover.  Immediately to your flank is the a regular infantry company with green facings and cuffs.  You are positioned in the middle of the line with your unit of elite regular infantry (white cuffs). The third company (black cuffs) are on your right. The artillery detachment has positioned themselves on the hill where they can shoot at the enemy overhead the black company.

Red's Position

The Enemy Forces:

The enemy commander sits atop his black charger with the a squadron from the first heavy horse regiment.  He has had an illustrious career on horseback and has earned the Equestrian trait.  On his left is a squadron of regular saber cavalry.  Two companies of regular infantry (gold cuff and red cuff) form the center and left of the main line.  A company of militia regular infantry occupy the farmhouse. 

Blue's Position

The Action Continues:

The player must decide which units to activate first.  Due to the leader's "Green" trait, all units with command radius suffer a -1 modifier to all resolve rolls. The skirmish infantry in the woods are outside command radius and therefore have the highest likelihood of successful activation.  The player chooses to attempt to activate them first. 
The player rolls 2D6, resulting in a sum of 8.  From this unmodified sum, baseline and conditional modifiers are added.  The baseline modifier for activation is the difference between the unit's resolve and 3.  The skirmish infantry has a resolve of 3.  Offsetting resolve and no conditional modifiers results in a modified result of 8.  The skirmishers are awarded a simple action.  They move forward 2 cells. 

Skirmishers vacate the woods

The player may now activate another unit.  All line infantry would receive a +1 modifier for being adjacent to the leader.  The artillery being at a diagonal is counted as being 2 cells from the leader. (When counting distances in "The Far Side of the World", every 1st, 3rd, 5th, Nth, diagonal measurements is counted as a distance of 2.) The player nominates the leader's elite regular infantry for activation.
The player rolls 2D6, resulting in a sum of 10. The baseline modifier for activation is the difference between the unit's resolve and 3.  The regular infantry has a resolve of 3.  The regulars receive a +1 bonus for being adjacent to the leader, resulting in a modified result of 11.  They are awarded a difficult or easy action.  Because units are not permitted to move and fire in the same activation, using the "Volley Fire" action is the best course of action.
The yellow-cuffed regular infantry in the forest is determined to be the target.  It is established that there are no Line of Sight obstructions and the target is in range (range is 3).  Because the leader's unit is involved in the combat, the player rolls 2D6 for the unit and 1D6 for the leader. The player must use the leader's dice but chooses the best of the unit's dice, resulting in a sum of 11.  The baseline modifier for shooting combats is the difference between the shooting unit's combat (3) and the target's resolve (3).  The elite regulars receive a +1 modifier for performing the volley fire action, a -1 modifier for shooting at maximum range, and a -1 modifier for the target in cover.  The modified result is 10.  The firing results in the regulars becoming disordered and bloodied.  (Blue may activate its leader unit who can attempt to rally the yellow-cuffed regulars, but the bloodied modifier cannot be removed) 

Elite Regulars fire at regulars in forest

The player may now choose to activate another unit.  They select the green-cuffed regulars between the skirmishers and Sir Byrne's Elite Regulars to maximize volume of fire pouring into the farmstead in subsequent turns, the player attempts to activate the green-cuffed regulars. The player rolls 2D6 resulting in a sum of 2.  No amount of modifiers will result in an activation.  Because there are no ongoing melees to check for resolution, initiative moves to the blue player.


Changes to results table forthcoming.  Results in v1.0 unclear.  Results of 10+ will be "Target bloodied and disordered. If already bloodied and disordered, eliminated."
Rally attempts can be influenced by leader and unit traits.  Probably need to pick one.
"Veteran" and "Green" should apply to all resolve in v1.0.  Consider changing to only impact to activation in v1.1

I'll write up Blue's activation next.  I should be able to demonstrate melee actions and the effects of units being disordered and bloodied.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Introducing "The Far Side of the World"

 Although I haven't posted in a long time, I haven't been completely idle.  I've been developing my own compact, gridded, limited bookkeeping wargame.  My efforts developed into the rules now posted in the pages section of this blog.  

 It is intended to cover the time period 1840-1900.  Each stand of units is intended to represent roughly a company of infantry, squadron of cavalry, and single guns.  However, if players assume the artillery is larger field places or the nations involved preferred to form larger batteries, the scale could easily be upgraded so that infantry represents regiments.  

If you play the game or read through the rules and have feedback, please do not hesitate to reach-out.  

I still have some horses to paint and need to add most of the details to the other units before I’m able to play a game worth photographing. I’ve played it digitally through the software I did the modeling in but it’s supposed to be a tactile game. Right?

I will try to be a little more diligent in getting the painting done and getting games on the the table. 

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Quick Paint Tests

I am making slow progress on getting my mid/late 19th century armies to the table. I am still undecided about color schemes but wanted to see some options side by side.  Below are some examples of what I've already painted.  

I had some other football players, but none looked appropriate

I completely forgot that I had already painted a light and dark blue army.  After seeing it next to some other options, I think it fits well as a military uniform.  I really like the green uniforms, but I need to use most of my greens on foliage. The football player is from Techno Bowl, probably the best game I've ever played.  It's a great mix of luck, strategy, and customization.  The only downside is that it is impossible to play solo well.

One of the blessings in disguise of 3D printing is that the process isn’t perfect. Sometimes models fail for unexpected and unexplained reasons. If the errors aren’t too catastrophic, this leaves you with a small number of otherwise useless models. These make great test subjects for painting. I gave two failed prints a quick mockup.  Cieland's light and dark blue was up first.   The first step was ensuring I don't want white pants/helmets.  The white pants and helmet looks very tropical.  My terrain is more arid than tropical.  

After adding dark blue paint to the helmet and pants, the uniform looks decidedly less tropical.  Completing the model with flesh tone faces, brown and silver firearms, gold spikes on the pickelhaube, and regimental cuffs, will yield a viable Cielandic uniform.  

Sicora's red uniform is up next.  It is intended to be roughly inspired by Victorian Great Britain.  I'm not striving for complete imitation, it just needs to look British enough that it could be used in a historically inspired scenario.  As with the other uniform, I started by painting the Tunic and then adding color and evaluating the combinations along the way.

The all white uniform could be OK but it looks rather Napoleonic to me.  By the mid/late 19th Century most European nations had moved away from white pants.  I can't imagine trying to keep a white uniform looking good in the field.

I didn't have any khaki paint available so I had to move straight to Home Service Uniforms.  I know the late 19th Century Home Service Uniform had a spike on the helmet, but with my impressionistic (low detail) modeling the only uniform difference would be the height of the helmet. I like this scheme better.  It really helps develop the toy soldier look I want and keeps me from developing theater specific uniforms.  

The photo above shows the sample models at roughly 3 feet.  They look distinct enough for me.  I don't really like how "symmetric" the uniforms are, but I don't know how to fix it.  I opted out of light color pants for both.  I could probably reverse Cieland's tunic and pants color, but if I expand the line in the future, France and/or US would be next.  Reversing Cieland's scheme would very closely mimic US uniforms.